I’m a working mother, and like most working mothers, I’m constantly juggling a million things in my life and trying to do everything and be everywhere all at the same time. I love being with my kids, so I pick them up from school every day and help them with their homework and take them to after school activities and put them to bed at night.
I like when my family eats healthy meals, so I make dinner almost every night, instead of relying on perpetual take-out. I love my dog, and I want to make sure he gets enough exercise, so I take him on long walks a few days a week. I like feeling sane, and working out helps me to feel that way, so I go to the gym on a regular basis. I like to feel connected to my kids’ school, so I volunteered to be on a committee. These are a lot of things to do every day as it is, but when you throw a job into the mix, it starts to become impossible.
The fundamental problem, as I see it, is that I don’t want to disappoint anyone. Not my kids, not my husband, not my editor, not my dog, not myself.
It used to be that I wrote my books on my own time frame. I would work three or four hours a day, three days a week, and still be able to eke out a book every year or so. But now that my career has matured a bit, I’m facing tighter deadlines that require me to work eight to ten hours a day, five days a week. It may not sound like so much time – and it’s not, really – but suddenly, my job is no longer contained to within school hours. Suddenly, I have a real commitment that requires me to either give up some of my other commitments, or else be stressed out and miserable because I just can’t do it all.
I realize that the solution, of course, is to prioritize, and to delegate. As much as I love going hiking with my dog, I could hire someone else to do it for me. As much as I enjoy taking my kids to their activities in the afternoons, I could find someone else to drive them. As much as I like making dinner, I could order in more often.
I could do these things. I should do these things. But I’m finding it so hard to actually do these things. I think I might feel differently if our family relied on my income. It would no doubt be easier for me to justify outsourcing my life if I knew that I was working in order to help support our family. But as a writer, my income is so unstable and inconsistent, it would be irresponsible of us to count on it, and I’m lucky that we’re in a position where we don’t have to. But at the same time, it feels selfish to not make dinner or drive my kids around just so that I can pursue something I don’t really have to be doing. And, it feels indulgent to actually spend money to have someone else do those things for me. Yet at the same time, I really love writing books – I have truly found my passion in life – and I don’t want to give up the opportunities I have right now to do it professionally.
So what it all comes down to, I guess, is that I’m going to have to make some hard choices, and someone is going to end up disappointed. Honestly, just the thought of it makes me nauseous. But I can’t keep trying to squeeze thirty hours of activities into every day. Something has to be done. I’ll let you know when I do it.